Taiwan warns against nationals working for CPC-affiliated agencies

Warning comes after Taiwanese journalist accused of working for Chinese media

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Chinese flag (AP photo)

Taiwan warned Friday (April 18) of legal action against Taiwanese citizens working for China-based media outlets with links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), after an incident that came to light at a recent White House news briefing.

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's top agency in charge of cross-strait relations, reiterated in a statement that it is unlawful for Taiwanese nationals to work for Chinese political or military agencies, whatever is the status of their employment.

The MAC comments pointed to a case involving Chang Ching-yi (張經義), a reporter from Taiwan who works in Washington D.C. for Shanghai-based Dragon TV, who replied to U.S. President Donald Trump in an April 8 White House news conference when questioned on where he was from, that he was from Taiwan after he raised questions on the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Chang's comments triggered responses from both sides of the strait. Some Chinese netizens accused Chang of being pro-Taiwan independence; some in Taiwan criticized him for working for a Chinese media, while others expressed concern that he will not be the last victim of what they described as a "witch hunt" by the Taiwanese authorities.

"We will invite the reporter in question to provide an explanation," MAC Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said Friday.

In a routine news conference Thursday, Chiu said that "any Taiwanese citizens who work for Chinese organizations linked to the CPC, administrative or military authorities are in violation of the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area." Taiwanese people, institutions or groups found guilty of contravening the act will face fines of between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000 (US$16,620), Chiu noted.

Citing a decree issued by the government in March 2004, the MAC said what it called "Chinese political or military authorities" refer to enterprises, institutions and groups belonging to all levels of CPC and government agencies in China.

On Friday, the MAC reaffirmed that Dragon Television, which employs Chang, falls under the Shanghai Media Group, which is affiliated to the CPC's Shanghai chapter and the Shanghai city government. Commenting on a media report that Chang is only a contract reporter at the network, the MAC said the status of employment does not have a part in its judgment of the work being carried out.

The MAC also noted that Taiwanese people are free to choose where to work and who to work for in China, as long as it does not pose a threat to Taiwan's national security and interests.